Exploring Future Application of Plurilateral Trade Rules: Lessons from the ITA and the ACTA

Author Name NAKATOMI Michitaka  (Senior Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. February 2012 12-P-002
Research Project Case Studies and Future Directions of the Global Trading System and Governance
Download / Links


Since the establishment of the WTO in 1995, major changes and liberalization of its rules have been realized by issue-based plurilateral agreements, as exemplified by the Financial Services and Telecommunication Services Agreement, the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The WTO Doha Round is in a stalemate under the principle of consensus decision making and a single undertaking, leading to accelerating competition among free trade agreements (FTAs)/regional trade agreements (RTAs). In order to maintain global governance of the trade regime, the necessity for utilizing issue-based plurilateral agreements is expected to increase. Based primarily on the analyses of the ITA and the ACTA in which the author was heavily involved, this paper looks at the various issues related to issue-based plurilateral agreements from multi-faceted angles including legal and proposes the utilization of plurilateral agreements and their limitations. It analyzes, inter alia, 1) Necessity and Characteristics, 2) Incorporation into WTO Agreements and Limitations, 3) Ensuring Consistency with Existing WTO Agreements and Limitations, 4) Relationships with Non-participating WTO Members in Rights and Obligations, 5) Secretariat Functions, 6) Incentives for Non-participants to Participate, and so forth, and also proposes possible specific areas/issues where issue-based plurilateral agreements can be developed.

The English version of this paper is 12-P-009.